April 1991 - Did I Really Hear That?Tom Whitlock
of Denton contributes this trial excerpt from "a mental health probable cause hearing in which he represented the proposed patient." Tom is cross-examining the mother of his client:
Q.Has she ever [acted suicidal] or threatened to hurt anyone else?
Q. I believe you testified that she had some kind of psychosis. What kind?
A. Post-mortem psychosis.
Q. Post-mortem psychosis.
Tom adds: "I know that dying always makes me psychotic!"
February 1994 - The Civil Stuff
From Callan M. Billingsley
of Angleton, this excerpt is from the bank president's deposition in a suit seeking a deficiency judgment for the balance due on the promissory note following foreclosure. Gary L. McConnell represented the bank and George T. Wommack was the defendant's attorney.
Q. (By Mr. Wommack) and who was the trustee, under the deed of trust, at the foreclosure sale? Well, let me ask you, who said "hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, we're going to hold a sale"? Who held that sale?
Mr. McConnell: Nobody said that. Nobody said "hear ye, hear ye." They said "O yea, O yea, O yea
July 2004 - The Winner: Most Confusing Document TitlePaul J. Van Osselaer
of Austin (Van Osselaer, Cronin & Buchanan) and Robert Slovak of Dallas (Gardere Wynne Sewell) — who are opposing counsel in a case on my docket — jointly submitted the following:
“Paul Van Osselaer of Austin … was hoping that the alternative relief would be granted just to figure out what is going on
. He submitted this entry as a potential winner as the most confusing document title, deleting the actual names of the parties to protect the guilty. It’s from a filing in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio:
“DEFENDANT’S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF’S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF’S REPLY TO DEFENDANT’S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, APPLICATION FOR HEARING.”
March 2005 - Did They Really Say That?
From Kristy Crawford of Tyler (court reporter for Judge Carole Clark, 321st District Court), this excerpt from a recent proceeding in court:
Mr. Sinclair: Judge, I agree with most of what Mr. Hogan said, but not everything.
The Court: Okay.
Mr. Sinclair: You did order it just the way it reads on the docket sheet, Judge. … The issue here is why did you order that? First of all, you ordered —
The Court: I can’t tell you why.
Mr. Sinclair: I’m going to, hopefully,refresh your memory.
The Court: No. But, I mean, you can’t inquire into the judicial process of the brain.
Mr. Hogan: Of “the” brain?
The Court: Of the judge’s brain — if she has one.
April 2007 - A Little Out of Touch With Reality
This contribution is from Justice Bob McCoy
of Fort Worth (Second istrict Court of Appeals), who suggests that a possible title might be “So There is a Texas A&M Law School After All.”
The following excerpts come from the deposition of an individual who is appealing his conviction for assault of a corrections officer.
A. I’m a state judge from Bryan/College Station.
Q. I didn’t realize you were a judge.… [D]o you wear your judge robes in prison?
A. No, sir, I don’t. I come here on leave out of the county. …
Q. Went to high school and college. Where did you go to college?
A. Bristo A&M [sic]. What they call Texas A&M University. …
Q. How did you become a judge?
A. I went to school, got licensed to be a — practice law.
Q. Was that over at Bristo A&M?
A. Yes it was. …
A. You still can go to school there and practice law and be a judge.
Q. [M]aybe you ought to write a letter to the State Bar and let them know it’s there.
A. I own the damn State Bar.
Q. You own the State Bar?
A. Yes, I do. …
Q. And are they one of the reasons you’re in jail because you just don’t do what the State Bar wants?
A. Yes, sir. I come here on leave undercover from — I mean, other than Bryan, College Station. …
Q. Are you sure you’re not just a little out of touch with reality?
A. No sir, I’m not. I completed high school and college.
April 2004 - Can You Describe the Pain?
This deposition excerpt is from Marvin L. Cook
of San Antonio (he is general counsel of Southwest Business Corp.). The plaintiff in a slip-and-fall case is being questioned about the injuries allegedly suffered at the time of the fall.
Q. And you say you also complained about pain down your right arm?
Q. Can you describe that pain?
A. It hurt like hell. …
September 2005 - Transquips from Lynn BrooksLynn Brooks
of DeSoto, who is a certified shorthand reporter, sent me a number of transcript excerpts — which she calls “transquips.” Here are a few of them:
Q. Do you have any relatives in a nursing home anywhere, or have you ever?
Q. Who was that?
A. My wife’s stepmother.
Q. Is she still living?
A. She died a week ago Monday.
Q. I’m sorry to hear that. How was her health when she was in that nursing home?
Mr. Smith: Objection: Form. She died, Steve. Come on.
May 1997 - Did He Really Say That?
From Joseph G. Rollins
of Houston, this excerpt from a Trespass To Try Title case that he tried in Sherman "way back in the early 1950's." Joseph sets the stage by explaining that the witness' father had been "well known to have been an alcoholic."
Q. And your father died intestate?
A. (Halfway coming out of his seat) No, he died in a train wreck, Mr. Rollins, and you know it!!
Judge: He's just trying to find out if your daddy had a will.
A. Well, why didn't he just ask me that instead of getting personal about it.
May 1994 - From The Twilight Zone
From W. Bernard Whitney
of Fort Worth, this excerpt from the deposition of the defendant-husband in a case involving the mental and physical ability of his wife - who was "the testatrix in 1984 and who subsequently died in May 1992":
Q. Okay. And then do you recall the time in September of 1984 when she was using the commode and she fell, and she fell off the commode and hit her head?
A. No, sir, I don't because just before she passed away she was still using the commode
and they didn't nobody hold her on it.
Q. So you're saying
in September 1984 she didn't fall off the commode
A. She did not, she sat there until the day they took her to the hospital and died
[in May 1992].
July 1991 - Doing Voir Dire
of San Antonio (Willis, Hickey, etc) not only believes "that the risks of trial far outweighed the risks of depositions," he is convinced "that certain aspects of trial (most notably voir dire examination) are more dangerous still."
Juror No. 19 (Frank Kalani Laa) wished to approach the bench to ask a question; Judge Spears, being understandably unfamiliar with the pronunciation of Mr. Kalani Laa's last name, sought assistance:
The Court: Number 19, would you step forward please.
The Court: How do you pronounce your name?
Juror Laa: Frank.
May 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That UpJudge William L. Baskette, Jr.
of Kerr County sends this "unplanned discussion" which took place in a hearing before him:
The Court: And what is the basis of your motion? Do you have any case law or anything you'd like to cite to the Court at this time?
Attorney: In our last hearing in this case, I was left here with the thought that the Court had said based on some 25 cases of Mr. Stehling's that the Court was issuing an edict or ruling, or a ruling that he contemplated or whatever, saying that if the state —
The Court: The court doesn't issue edicts; only the Pope does.
July 2003 - Did They Really Say That?
This contribution from Ileana M. Blanco
(Bracewell & Giuliani):
Q. Let's talk about McNish for a moment. You said he was a beast. He weighed about 300 pounds, didn't he?
The Court: I don't think I heard anybody say anybody was a beast.
The Witness: I didn't say anybody was a beast.
Q. I thought he said five 10 and a beast. Maybe I misunderstood.
A. Obese. I didn't say he was a beast.
The Court: Okay.
Q. Maybe my accent is -- fat. McNish was fat?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And like 300 pounds, 300-pound gentleman, somewhere in that ballpark area?
A. I'm not absolutely certain. He's certainly very overweight.
July 1989 - How Much Did You Have to Drink?
Defendant: (Charged with drunk driving) Your Honor, I only had one for the road.
Judge: How many did you have for the ditch
Judge: You are charged with habitual drunkenness. Have you anything to say in your defense?
Defendant: Habitual Thirstiness
January 2004 - That's Good Advice!
This contribution, from Carl Pipoly
and Melissa Brantner
of San Antonio, is from a personal injury trial where the defense counsel violated a motion in limine by injecting the workers' compensation case into the trial. The subrogation attorney then asked the court for advice on how to handle future violations.
Mr. McLin: Your Honor, for future reference, this is going to be an issue that will be brought up again. How would you like me to handle objections?
The Court: Just ask me to put her in jail.
Mr. McLin: Okay. Thank you, Your Honor.
December 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From Judge Ralph H. Walton, Jr.,
of Granbury, 355th Judicial District), this excerpt “from the direct examination by the prosecutor in a recent driving-while-intoxicated case in [his] court in which the elderly, hard-of-hearing ‘Uncle Billy’ was called to testify.”
Q. Do you know Mr. Rinard?
Q. Rinard. He’s your neighbor.
A. Oh, yes.
Q. You might know him as Elias.
A. No, sir, he seems like a real respectable man.
Q. Not a liar, but Elias. Do you know his first name?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. You just know him as Mr. Rinard?
A. Actually, I know him as Mr. Bradshaw’s brother-in-law.
Q. Fair enough.
February 1999 - Lawyers are Next
From Amy K. Rosenberg
of Fort Collins, Colo. (Liggett, Smith & Williams), this trial excerpt from a "marriage dissolution proceeding" in which Amy's colleague, Michael Liggett, "was cross-examing the soon-to-be ex-wife" regarding some of her expenditures.
Q. "Wynbriar," is that an antique store?
A. No, that's not. That's a tobacco shop.
Q. What did you buy for $831?
A. A fox.
Q. A fox?
The Court: Wait a minute. I've got to know. You mean, an animal?
The Witness: No. He's - I have a dead animal farm. It's a stuffed fox.
The Court: A stuffed fox. Okay.
Q. You say you have a dead animal farm. You collect taxidermy?
A. Does that surprise you?
Q. What other animals do you have?
A. Lawyers are next.
May 1990 - Many of Us Have the Same Problem TomJerome Aldrich
of Angleton (and a Brazoria County assistant district attorney) sent this trial excerpt with the simple observation that it "shows that all prosecutor Tom Selleck (not related to the movie star of the same name) and the defense attorney, Lloyd Stansbury, wanted during jury voir dire was an UNBIASED jury."
Mr. Selleck: I certainly thank ya'll for your time and you've been very helpful to myself. Anybody that has any questions of me based on anything I've said? Okay. Thank you.
Ms. Grigsby: You're not going to use the back row?
Mr. Selleck: Well, I'm a laywer and if I talk to the back row it will take another 45 minutes.
Ms. Grigsby: You know what, I find you very attractive and I might be biased in a different sense. I'm afraid I might decide for you.
Mr. Selleck: That's a first for me I assure you, but thank you.
The Court: Counsel, you have exceeded your 45-minutes, if that helps you any.
Mr. Selleck: Thank you, Your Honor. The judge has given me my out. Thank you very much.
The Court: Mr. Stansbury.
Mr. Stansbury: Thank you, Your Honor.
Unidentified Juror: Let's see you top that.
Mr. Stansbury: I'm not even going to try.
June 2003 - How Do You Define Drunk?
From Judge Buddie J. Hahn
, Texas Bar Journal, Vol. 50, No. 11 — December 1987.
Q. On the day that Twine was shot, were you intoxicated?
A. I definitely was not.
Q. Had you been drinking that day?
A. I drank a few beers.
Q. How many beers did you drink?
A. About thirty (30).
Q. And you were not drunk?
Q. What is your definition of drunk?
A. Drunk is when you fall down and you can’t get up.
September 2002 - The "Suicide Question"
From U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcie A. Crone
of Houston, this "excerpt from a recent employment discrimination" trial in her court in which the Plaintiff alleged mental anguish as well as other claims
Q. I'm not asking if you attempted suicide.
Q. I'm asking if you ever said you were going to commit suicide.
A. Oh, yes.
Q. And why did you do that?
A. To get people to talk to me, feel sorry for me, want to be around me, watch me, attention.
Q. Did you ever actually commit suicide — or — I'm sorry.
The Court: Obviously not.
April 2005 - A Marvelous Answer
This contribution from David W. Lindemood
of Midland is from a CPS trial before District Judge Dean Rucker (318th District Court) in which Lindemood was the attorney ad litem for the child. The witness, who was the CASA guardian ad litem, is being questioned by Chris McCormack of Midland.
Q. As I understand your testimony about Ms. Ybarra's residence, living situation, you only went into one of the homes that she lived in? Do I have that right?
Q. Two. And on each occasion that you went in there, the residence was clean and orderly, generally - or actually, one was clean and orderly, and one was a little messy, a bachelor pad, as I recall now.
A. That's right.
Q. But no - other than being a little messy, it was not filthy or dirty? Umkempt?
A. It was being swept up and picked up with a shovel.
September 1994 - How Boring Was It?
From John R. Brumbelow of Tyler, this excerpt from a very lengthy trial before Judge Sam Bournias
(87th District Court, Anderson County). John explains that one of the jurors becamse ill with heart problems on the fourth or fifth day of trial; that Judge Bournias, sua sponte
, excused the juror; and that he then gave the attorneys a lengthy explanation of the events which led to the dismissal of the juror. No one objected, but then this colloquy took place:
Mr. Hankins: Judge, did she say who brought on the symptoms?
Court: I think that you were boring her to heath.
Mr. Hankins: How's your heart?
January 1990 - Did I Really Say That?Judge Robert Lee Eschenburg, II
of Floresville (218th District Court) notes that "you rarely write about a judge's goof" — and contributes one of his own:
I have just finished a criminal trial. During the final argument by one of the attorneys, the other attorney raised an objection. I quickly responded "overstained." Just let the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio reverse me on that!
February 2004 - Making It Through The Holidays
This contribution is from U.S. District Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.
of Concord, N.H. (Joe and I served several years together on the Code of Conduct Committee for federal judges and judicial employees). The excerpt is from a jury selection he was conducting the week before Thanksgiving.
Ms. Dube: Juror No. 68 needs to re-approach, your Honor.
The Court: All right.
[At side bar … ]
The Juror: I thought there was going to be a second call-up for hardship. I raise turkeys and my wife’s going to be a plucking fool if I’m not there to help her.
The Court: You didn’t tell me the first time you came up.
The Juror: I thought — I misunderstood. I thought I had a second chance to come up if you had any hardships. She’s not going to be happy, with Thanksgiving being next week, if I’m not there to help her.
The Court: It’s not going to be good for marital harmony. Might be good for the turkeys though. Some of them might make it through the holidays. All right. I will excuse you.